The president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, Juan Reinaldo Perez, said Saturday, in a statement, that the organizers of the World Baseball Classic, scheduled for March 2023, have received a license that would allow Cubans currently playing in Major League Baseball or residing in the United States to join Team Cuba.
The head of the island’s main sport acknowledged that this is a positive step and also said that it is the only fair solution.
If this news is confirmed, and if MLB players participate in Team Cuba, it would be the first time since the triumph of the 1959 revolution that Cuban players from both countries would be included in a national baseball team.
In early December, Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cossio stated that the U.S. was preventing Cuba’s best players from participating in the world’s premier baseball tournament, the World Classic.
In recent years there has been a growing wave of migration, including the desertion of dozens of the best athletes and prospects of Cuban baseball, almost all of whom have left for the United States, seeking economic improvements and to play in the best league in the world.
U.S. sanctions, the embargo, Cold War sanctions, complicate Cuba’s financial and commercial transactions with the rest of the world. These sanctions make it impossible for a Cuban baseball player to sign with a Major League Baseball team for the United States without losing his Cuban status.
The direct consequence of these actions is that Cuban baseball talent has fled the country en masse in unprecedented numbers over the past decade, which has deteriorated the quality of baseball played in Cuba and hurt national pride.
In the last six years, more than 600 Cuban baseball players have defected to the United States, a figure that has been acknowledged even by the island’s state-run media.
Baseball is the main Cuban sport, the favorite of all. Cuba’s baseball teams have won important tournaments such as gold medals at the 1992, 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games.
The year 2020 was a particularly hard year for Cuban baseball as it failed to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, for the first time in history.